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Florida grapefruit sales in South Korea spike thanks to … cocktails?

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

Hats off to the Florida Department of Agriculture for successfully pimping out Florida grapefruits to South Korea.

According to the department, Florida grapefruit sales to South Korea jumped to a historic high of nearly $5 million last year, representing a 44 percent increase from 2013.

Now this isn’t necessarily because South Koreans are citrus-hungry and health-savvy, it’s because they like grapefruit-flavored booze.

Part of the increase in grapefruit sales to South Korea is attributed to a partnership in the country with Outback Steakhouse restaurants, which are continuing to feature a “Fresh From Florida” red grapefruit cocktail on their spring and summer menus.

The same promotion last year led to the sale of 80,000 drinks over 110 Outback locations in South Korea.

“After last year’s success with the first-of-its-kind partnership with Outback Steakhouse in South Korea, we are proud to continue to promote fresh Florida grapefruit this year,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. “South Korea continues to expand as a trade partner, and this unique venture will highlight Florida citrus in an exclusive menu item.”

Environmentalists are using beer to push clean water initiatives and our conservative Ag Commissioner is using booze to sell produce.


Apparently this citrusy booze trend has led to a record 425,705 boxes of grapefruit shipped to South Korea this year.

Not only are grapefruit sales booming in South Korea, a distributor for Florida’s Natural juices in South Korea is teaming up with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to sell 10,000 boxes of Florida’s Natural orange juice at select locations and events in South Korea this year.

It’s not clear how many of those boxes of OJ will be used in the mixing of brunch-time mimosas and screwdrivers.

According to the Department of Agriculture, total exports of Florida products to Korea also continue to increase. South Korea received more than $60 million worth of Florida agricultural products in 2014, making it Number 16 in the world. South Korea is currently one of the fastest-growing major markets for exports from Florida.  “Fresh From Florida” products are now distributed in 1,240 locations throughout Asia.

With or without added alcohol, drink up, South Korea.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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